Three Missionary Faiths (Buddhism, Christianity, Islam) and Their Importance for Global Development

STH TM 808

The terms "missionary" and "development" often prompt images of Western Christians working away from home. Much has been written about European colonial era missionaries and Western-led interventions around the world. But Christianity is not the only missionary world religion nor do modern development efforts fall within the sole purview of Western powers. This course will examine the missionary nature of Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam and consider the ways in which all three faiths think about engagement with the world in an era of climate change, resource wars, and global economic inequity. Using an inter-disciplinary approach that examines religious adherents' worldviews the course will concentrate on how the thinking patterns of followers of these three faith traditions translate into actions. We will also reflect on the ways in which the modern development enterprise itself exhibits missionary characteristics. Particular attention will go towards contexts in which interactions among the religious traditions and secular development interventions are taking place. Guest speakers, site visits, and multimedia presentations will complement reading assignments and classroom discussions.

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